December 08, 2010


By Delynn Ho, VP Sales

Here at BuzCity, we've noticed that travel and hospitality providers are increasingly turning to mobile to market services and interact with customers. In previous entries, we've already looked at how carriers – like SriLankan Airlines and Malaysia Airlines – have been using mobile to sell tickets, track bags and more.

But what about after the flight?

This week, we look at a mobile campaign run by, which – as the name probably tells you – is a platform for travelers to find a place to stay. – an affiliate of Nasdaq-listed Expedia – has an inventory of over 120,000 properties, one of the widest selections of accommodation on the net. It features both major chains and independent hotels.

Starting in October, began running mobile ads in three European countries to promote its mobile website and a “Welcome Rewards” campaign, which offers consumers one free night of accommodation for every ten nights booked.

While the company has customised sites across the globe, the choice of Europe for its first mobile ad campaign is not surprising. According to Euromonitor, 34% of smartphone users access the mobile internet to search for travel information. Twenty-nine percent check reservations and one-quarter book accommodations with their devices.

Smartphone penetration is particularly strong in Europe. Here are the figures – based on data in the BuzzCity Campaign Planner -- for the three countries where the campaign is running:

Denmark 92 %
Norway 76 %
UK 62 %

Euromonitor, by the way, is also predicting that mobile phones will become the primary tool for connecting to the internet in Europe by 2014.

The banner ads have focused on promoting cheap rates, but they have not explicitly mentioned the Welcome Rewards promotion. Users need to click through to company's mobile website to see that.

The click-through rates (CTR) for the banner ads have been running at 0.68% in Denmark, 0.57% in Norway and 0.72% in the UK. The average CTR in these markets during the same period is about one percent.

The mobile website itself is quite good.  The search engine is straight-forward and easy-to-use:

And the results are presented clearly presented with images of the hotels, rates and guest ratings: says that traffic on its mobile website has increased since it started the campaign, but it has not tracked the number of consumers who have booked a hotel room after clicking on one of the mobile banners nor the number of new registrations for the Welcome Rewards programme.

There are several ways could improve its campaign:
  • Top of the list would be to implement tracking on their mobile website in order to have a better overview of customers' behavior and usage patterns.
  • I would also recommend running a series of time-targeted campaigns in the evenings, as many travelers are likely to book pesonal getaways outside of office hours.
  • In addition, like many brands, advertises across different mediums, but their mobile campaign is a stand-alone project. There's no reference to it on the corporate website or in TV ads. A consistent unified message would be more effective.

All in all, though, has done a good job of building and promoting a mobile presence. Other hospitality companies should take note, unless they don't mind losing market share.